Mexico once again felt the aftermath of its violent reality this week. Sometimes in the form of dismembered or absent bodies, crime has preferred on this occasion to organize a small chaos, with frightening consequences for the population, physical or virtual spectators of organized crime’s ability to post messages. The reason a failed operation. The army attempted to arrest two leaders of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), aka El Doble R and El Apá, and they set fire to everything they could while escaping.
It had been four years since central Mexico experienced a situation like this Tuesday. The blockades, the vehicles that were set on fire, the shops attacked, the criminals building up a power image against the nothingness of the state. The last time Guadalajara and its metropolitan area suffered a similar situation dates back to 2018, when hitmen attempted to assassinate former prosecutor Luis Carlos Nájera in the center. The blockades then remained in and around the capital, Guadalajara.
For researcher Carlos Flores of the Center for Research and Higher Studies in Social Anthropology, CIESAS, the lukewarm attitude of federal and state governments towards organized crime causes situations like this. “The authorities have to take responsibility. The kind of strategies they use don’t have positive results, they just create fires. Criminal organizations perceive a certain freedom of movement. I’m not saying there are agreements. But it is the message that government inaction is sending. The groups don’t react and do it in a rational way”.
This week in Jalisco and Guadalajara was different from other occasions. The criminals’ response covered a radius of more than 350 kilometers, a distance separating Ixtlahuacán del Río north of Guadalajara, the site of the frustrated operation, and Celaya in Guanajuato, one of the cities in the neighboring state where vehicle fires were recorded. and convenience stores. The distance suggests various possibilities, for example the escape routes of the assembled leaders, but also the mobilization ability of a group addicted to virality.
Aside from the raw figures presented by the government – 16 detained, one suspected criminal killed, weapons and vehicles seized – the flood of information emanating from this Wednesday’s Security Cabinet meeting, which various media outlets have agreed to. At the meeting, Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval would have precisely explained that Tuesday night’s chaos was the result of the attempted capture of Ricardo Ruiz, El Doble R, and Gerardo González, El Apá. The President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has confirmed that the chaos was the result of a meeting between the two and the fiasco of his capture attempt.
Both aliases are old acquaintances of the press and of General Sandoval himself. The secretary mentioned the name of the first a little over two years ago, following another promotion by the criminal group, which days earlier had released video of a strange parade involving dozens of suspected Members of the CJNG posed in front of them police vehicles, war vehicles, modified transporters, which in Mexico have been given the name artisan tanks. The lack of official information about El Doble R and his sidekick El Apá has favored the appearance of versions in the media about their position in the criminal hierarchy. Even about the nature of the meeting. The Milenio newspaper reported that CJNG leader Nemesio Oseguera’s successor, El Mencho, was one of the issues discussed.
Regarding El Doble R, the newspaper Reforma has also recalled that Sandoval used him as coordinator, leader or commander of an elite group of the CJNG, El Mencho’s messengers, allegedly in those years on his main battlefields in the case of the central areas and south of Guanajuato and the Sierra Costa region of Michoacán. In Guanajuato, cells linked to the CJNG in cities such as Salamanca, Irapuato, Celaya or Silao have been fighting with another organization known in the media as the Santa Rosa de Lima cartel. One of the country’s Pemex refineries operates in Salamanca. The Sierra Costa region of Michoacán has suffered during these years from the struggle between the criminal group and mimics of old local mafias popularly known as the United Cartels.
For researcher Flores, one of the few academics to have studied the specific case of the CJNG in Mexico, what happened “reflects the type of structure of the criminal group, with a strong militarized component and a military mobilization capability. Perhaps unconventional, but of counterinsurgency that also speaks of a non-clandestine presence.” Flores adds that the nature of the CJNG’s presence and responses also respond to the relationship it has with the population. “It’s no longer just about drug trafficking, it’s about extracting resources from the population through blackmail,” he says.
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